NgospelMedia.net is The No. 1 International Urban Gospel Media Website, The Largest Repository of Your Favorite Gospel Entertainment Website, Worldwide, Nigeria. We Published Latest Nigerian and Foreign Gospel Music Downloads, Videos; Lyrics, Artiste Biography, Daily Devotionals. NgospelMedia is mainly a Christian Website, as the Domain Name Speaks; Gospel; Which is also tagged as a Gospel On-line Ministry for Souls Winning...
2020 has been so eventful, so mostly awful, that you don’t want to shortchange it by characterizing it as “The Year of (something).” Man oh man, though, it’s hard to understate how much more prominent science has become in all of our lives.
Vaccines? Infection rates? Close contact? Suffice it to say I didn’t begin this year believing these terms would be major components of my work vocabulary.
Here we are, though, so who better with whom to discuss the state of baseball than with a scientist? Particularly a scientist who is such a huge baseball fan, so plugged into the game, that he had his own cardboard cutout this year at Busch Stadium in St. Louis.
Dr. Lawrence Rocks is a renowned chemist whose son Burton works as a player representative in Major League Baseball. Burton Rocks’ best-known client is Cardinals All-Star Paul DeJong, who is such a science buff himself (he majored in biochemistry at Illinois State) that he and his agent’s dad have become lab partners of sorts. When Dr. Rocks recently spoke at the virtual SALT conference with financier (and very brief member of the Trump Administration) Anthony Scaramucci about climate change and how it will impact public health, Scaramucci, a huge Mets fan who has owned a share of the team, couldn’t help but ask Dr. Rocks about having his own baseball card.
We started, naturally, with COVID. “I think that baseball did a pretty good job. I’d like to think they hit a triple last year,” Dr. Rocks said. “There was part of a season instead of no season, and at the end there were some fans in the stands. But had baseball had more fans in the stands, at least some fans, and given out masks to those who come to the ballpark, I think it would’ve been a home run rather than a triple.
“But at least baseball, I think, did a very good job in setting an example for the nation. We cannot have a 100 percent shutdown. We’ve got to have a judicious, surgical type of social distancing with masks and carry on. So I think they did a pretty good job.”
Looking ahead to 2021, “I hope that they have a full season,” Dr. Rocks said. “I don’t know if the vaccines are going to be available. It’ll take time of course to have an effect, the incubation time for the vaccine to develop antibodies. My fear is that it may be a partial season, maybe half or more. But I think that if masks are handed out at the stadium in a little plastic bag, if.stadiums are allowed to be 20 percent, 30 percent filled, baseball will do very well.”
Baseball and all sports would do better, Dr. Rocks explained, if they relocated their clubhouses from the bottom of their structures to their top, which would create vastly improved ventilation and could better prevent the sort of outbreaks that occurred last season on DeJong’s Cardinals (including DeJong himself) and the Marlins: “At every university, the science building has chemistry on the top floor for ventilation. So ventilation is far more important than filtration, and it’s not an issue that people understand.” That, Dr. Rocks knows, will be a tough nut to crack both architecturally and culturally. Teams like having their clubhouses as close to the field as possible.
Finally, Dr. Rocks introduced a most interesting wrinkle to the newfangled statistics that some of us love and others loathe: “People are into what I call aspects of physics like launch angle, exit velocity, spin rate, how fast is a fastball? What’s the curve of a curveball? All the physics. The big issue, in my opinion, is going to be respiration. The health of the player.
“As climate warms and we have more heat, more humidity and poorer air quality, the volume of oxygen transferred per minute is going to go down. In chemistry they call it VO2. The respiration factor. So with VO2 decreasing, that’s going to affect a player’s performance. Suppose the volume of oxygen transferred on a hot, humid day with bad air quality drops off two percent. The average person might say ‘Ah, only two percent.’ But suppose it translated into two percent off a flyball. Well, two percent off a 400-foot flyball is eight feet. That can make a difference.
“People look at statistics as if they come from nowhere. The statistics come out of the living ballplayers. And if their respiration is in any way hindered, harmed, that’s going to affect their play, and that’s going to affect statistics.”
These are issues we’re going to have to keep discussing because of their extreme relevance. No matter if you’re a science person or not, science is going to become a bigger part of this game and others.
(And if you enjoyed reading Dr. Rocks’ wisdom, keep your eye out for the MLB Players Association’s Infield Chatter account, where he’ll be making a video appearance shortly.)
This week’s Pop Quiz question came from Patrick Kennedy of Chicago: Name the animated TV show that, in a 1963 episode, featured characters named “Leo Ferocious” (as a baseball scout) and “Casey Strangle” (as a baseball team manager).
The Showtime documentary “Bad Hombres” is an interesting look at a baseball team that split its time between Texas and Mexico as tensions heightened at the border. I especially liked the focus on Luis Flores, a catcher who made it close to the big leagues, reaching Triple-A in both the Cubs and Astros organizations, and finds himself at a professional crossroads in this unconventional setting.
Your Pop Quiz answer is “The Flintstones.”
If you have a tidbit that connects baseball with popular culture, please send it to me at email@example.com.